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Miami-Dade Takes Police Union’s Final Offer Back To County

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County agreed late Tuesday to take the police union’s “best and final offer” back to the county as they try to hammer out a deal on concessions and cost breaks.

The offered to take a small pay and benefits cut. The offer came right after the union stuck down a proposal from the county which would require officers pay 5% more for their health insurance.

The county said they will have an answer for the union by Friday at 11 a.m.

During their last collective bargaining session of October 21st, the union agreed to a series of financial concessions worth nearly $40 million.

“It’s a huge step, said PBA President John Rivera. “We are trying to be part of the solution. “It’s a very nasty pill we have to take, but we are gonna to try to ante up.”

“Hopefully today, we’ll make some substantial progress,” said Miami-Dade County deputy mayor Chip Iglesias. “Today is a very important day.”

County officials want $70 million from the police budget or the police force will face layoffs.

Concessions agreed to in the last session include:

–require police to pay for taking their cars home, a free benefit including gas that applies no matter how far away from their assignment cops live, a practice that costs the county over $1 million a year. Under the new plans, cops would pay $50 in every bi-weekly paycheck to take cars home.

–eliminate the uniform allowance which helps the officers pay for the clothes they wear on the job

–cut the extra pay officers earn for working overnight hours

No matter what deal is worked out it must be approved by the police union rank and file, many of whom are not happy with the changes.

“Part of negotiation is we give a little, they give a little,” Rivera said. “We’ve given a lot. They haven’t given anything. So let’s see if they give a little bit.”

Igelsias said that’s not likely to happen.

“This issue that they gave a certain portion is great, but nevertheless, to balance the budget we still need to find the 70 plus million dollars.”

If the two sides can’t reach a deal, then the county will lay off up to 90 officers to balance the budget.

“If the worst happens and we have a layoff; we will shift resources,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Jim Loftus. “Some of that from community programs, some from proactive enforcement, and we will always honor the core mission of the department. That is when we pick the phone up, somebody comes.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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